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Episode 205 | Becoming a Better Communicator and Leader for Your Team with Aimée Bruneau

Aimee Bruneau headshot

WITH Aimée Bruneau

  • Episode 205 | Becoming a Better Communicator and Leader for Your Team with Aimée Bruneau 00:00


Hey Group Practice Listeners! Do you want to express yourself in public? It might be a scary thing to start for many of us. Other than public speaking needs confidence, you also need to know how to deliver yourself well to the audience. 

We are grateful to be accompanied by Aimee Bruneau in learning public speaking. She is a public speaking and communication coach, perfect for us to know ourselves better and unveil greater confidence. She will give tips and realizations that will lead us to find our brave public identity. 


Episode Highlights: 

  • When do writers feel an identity crisis during the transition to speaking in front of a crowd? 
  • How public speaking affects and turns us into different personalities? 
  • Why do we need to know our admired style to give us a direction in developing public speaking? 
  • Why is it that it is upon us what we feel? 
  • What are Imposter Syndrome and its mechanisms? 


To connect with Aimee:

You can have either an individual or group session with her through

Another means would be her email which is [email protected].


This episode is sponsored by TherapyNotes. TherapyNotes is an EHR software that helps behavioral health professionals manage their practice with confidence and efficiency. I use TherapyNotes in my own group practice and love its amazing support team, billing features, and scheduling capabilities. It serves us well as a large group practice owner.

Do you ever wish for a financial therapist who could relieve you from the last few months of bookkeeping, talk you off the edge when you’re running into issues with Quickbooks, or help you work through a profit plan for growth? GreenOak Accounting does just that! GreenOak Accounting is an accounting firm that specializes in working with group practices. Their value goes WAY beyond bookkeeping; they can help you get on track for financial success. Schedule a free consultation by going to


Maureen Werrbach

Hey everyone, welcome to another episode of the Group Practice Exchange Podcast. Today I have Ma Bruno on with me and she is a public speaking and communications coach I’m really excited to have her around cause we’re gonna be talking. What are the three choices that we need to make to be successful when it comes to public speaking?

So, hey, how are you? Hi, am good. Thanks so much for inviting me. I appreciate the conversation. Yeah. So tell the audience a little bit about who you are and what you do for people. Absolutely. My background is in the theater. I’m a lifelong actor. I’ve been acting since I was five, and then I shifted to directing theater.

Did that for about 25 years. I still do it every now and then, and I’m a university professor. I taught acting for many years, and I coach individuals and offer workshops in order to help people improve their presentation and to get them to speak articulately and elegantly. . Awesome. I know that with my audience group practice owners, a lot of times once they get to a space where they feel like their businesses have sort of grown to a space where they have leaders who are able to manage the day-to-day, they’re thinking about what else can I do impact-wise?

And a lot of practice owners end up thinking about public speaking, keynoting, and I know that’s just an area where it requires support and it’s not something. It comes naturally for a lot of people, and so I think this is just a really relevant and great topic to be talking about today with my audience, so I appreciate you coming on and sharing your expertise around this topic.

Yeah. It’s such a tough moment when you decide to put yourself out there. When you become the face and you become the voice because it’s much easier to write your ideas, to put out a blog, to share your ideas in safer ways. And the second that you decide, I’m gonna step in front of this camera, I’m gonna Instagram story, I’m gonna TikTok, I’m gonna YouTube, or whatever it is.

Even if it’s just standing in front of a room full of 300 people, I’m making it sound like that’s the easiest thing. It’s a big shift. It’s a big step. It’s a level of vulnerability. You don’t get it when you’re writing or blogging. It’s so true, and I think what a lot of people struggle with is that they feel very authentic in themselves when they’re writing or when they’re sending out materials.

But as soon as they step in front of other people, they start to question themselves and who they are. And I think you know, what they’re really having is an identity crisis. It’s who am I right now as I stand in front of these people. What are they? I can imagine that piece of it is fear that who we are on a day-to-day basis, or normally when it comes to whatever it is that we’re talking on, might not be accepted by others when we’re actually speaking on it.

I know that was something that it was an issue for me and probably still is to some extent, is I’m pretty down to earth. As you can see, I have colorful hair. Sleeve tattoos and piercings and doesn’t quite fit in with the business consulting world and behind the scenes, giving that information is a lot easier.

But I remember thinking, you know, I’m just really down to earth with how I talk and how I engage and give my information that when I first started public speaking, I thought this is gonna be the moment where people feel. Who is this person? This does not how she speaks. Like it almost doesn’t matter what I’m talking about anymore in the quality of what I’m talking about when how I present physically and how I talk kind of goes against this professional business sort of lens that is sort of expected in my arena, so I can understand how people get to that space.

Yeah. You know, you’re at war with judgment. Mm-hmm. , there’s this fear of judgment. What are other people gonna think? What are they gonna see? Do I measure up in some way? But also, we always change just a little bit when we start doing public speaking. Some of us become louder, and some of us become very soft.

Some of us turn to professionalism. We put on our professional voices. Mm-hmm. and. Some people have the skill where they just become extremely dynamic or they’ll put on a very chirpy, very positive. You know, and like we, we see a lot of dudes. They all wanna be like Gary v I don’t know if you know who that is, but they wanna be aggressive and in your face, so, People shift a little bit, and I’m here to say that I think it’s important that you become really conscious about the choices that you make when you choose your public identity.

It should be as close to you as possible, but when you feel yourself start to change because other people are watching. You need to have some ideas about that in advance. So you mentioned choices, and that’s sort of the topic for today is the, uh, three choices, and I’m eager to hear what these three choices are that we need to make when we engage in public speaking.

Absolutely. I think, and I’ve really distilled this down because I feel it’s at the core of what I do with people when I’m working with them. The first question that I ask any client that I work with is, who are speakers that you admire? Mm-hmm. , and whether people work with me or whether they don’t work with me, I feel that that question is, that enables them to take a couple of steps forward in terms of their own self-improvement.

Because if you can identify a C E o, a comedian, Uh, politician, a celebrity, anybody who’s in this a podcaster, anybody who is in this speaking realm, if you can identify who you really like, that will tell you a lot about what your own personal aesthetic is and what you like is very close to what you want to become.

You will be you. But now you’ve got a., for example, if you really value, you know, you said down to earth, authentic, you know, these are things that are you, they shape you. You know that you’ve always responded well to that. Mm-hmm. . So a speaker perhaps like Tony Robbins wouldn’t resonate with you. It’s not something that you’re after.

Mm-hmm. . And um, and I think that making a decision about the kinds of speakers that you like is defining your aesthetic and then you have an idea of where you’re going. It can be really dangerous. for people looking for help in terms of their public identities from coaches that might wanna fix you, right, and turn you into a cookie-cutter version of, what they think a good public speaker is.

Mm-hmm. , you know what I think is a good public speaker is probably different than what you think in some ways. Mm-hmm. . And so it’s important that you decide before you seek help and before you start reading books on public speaking and getting into all of that, you know, like, what do you like, who do you like to listen to, and is there a way that somebody talks that you just, you can’t get enough?

You love listening to that voice. Mm-hmm. . That’s the number one choice that I think that you make is choosing where you’re headed so that when you do seek out help with it, if you do that, you know where you’re going and you can drive the. I really like that. It definitely helps guide, as you said, the people we like most when it comes to a certain topic, usually there’s some level of we want to emulate that in some ways.

And so being able to know, I guess who we like, but also why, what is it about them? Cuz one interesting thing is you said who are three, you know, public speakers that you really. You know, I think of Brene Brown. I think of Glennon Doyle, but I also think of Gary V, who is very different than those two. And there are different reasons why I like all three of them, you know, for their vulnerability or openness and storytelling abilities.

But for, you know, with Gary V, it’s more about he’s able to be authentic and not polished in a way, which feels like me in a lot of ways that I think a lot of public speakers feel like they need to get all polished up and the videos need to look professional and, you know, his are kind of off the cuff and.

Not, you know, all professionally put together sometimes, and I just love that sort of laid-back authenticness. But they’re all very different. So yeah, they’re all very different. But in the same way, those people have something in common, which is that they sound like they’re just speaking to you. Yeah, they sound like they’re just talking.

With the exception of Gary V. The others are, they’re very well rehearsed. You know, but they’re able to pull off that feeling of, I’m just talking to you at this moment right now. And that to me sounds like what you’re after is that ability to be present with people. And I’ve heard your podcast and you achieve that.

You sound like you’re just talking with people and that resonates, translates for sure. Yeah. So what’s the second choice we have to make? The second choice is, this is gonna seem really, really obvious, and forgive me for this very remedial response to this, but it’s huge. People often reach out and say, I wanna work with a coach because I just wanna build up my confidence and I’m not being snarky.

When I return with a question and I say, how do you think we’re gonna do that? How are we gonna build your confidence? Are we gonna go to a confidence gym? Are we gonna do confidence reps? Like how are we gonna. . And if you get somebody thinking about that idea, what that means is that most people think of confidence as something sort of ethereal or ephemeral something.

They will finally have one day when they dot, dot, dot, whatever it is. And the truth is that confidence is a choice. So that is the second choice that you make, is that you choose confidence. And I can speak a little further on that, I think. Right now, if you wanted to, you could choose to make yourself feel sad.

Mm-hmm. , you could dredge up some childhood trauma. You could go back to some memories. You could think about sad things. You could think about the possibility of what if this horrible thing happened. You could put yourself into a sad state. We can all go to the dark place if we want. Mm-hmm. . And similarly, confidence can be chosen in the same way.

You have been confident before you have been confident. and you can be confident now if you choose it. So for example, when I’m presenting, I have this, I don’t know, it’s kind of a little ritual that I have, but I think to myself, I’ve got a mantra that I say going up there and as soon as I’m standing at the podium, the mic in the zoom screen, whatever it is, I imagine stepping into my confident shoes.

Mm-hmm. , and I am that because I’ve been there before. , I know what it feels like and I conjure that up now immediately. And I feel that it is a choice. And when you make it, when you take the time to make it at the moment, then I think that you have more success and you’ll start to look more presentable in front of other people when you’re not confident when you shrink.

Right? And what you see a lot at podiums is people will lean into a hip and they’ll close down a shoulder. You can see them visibly. Disappear into themselves a little bit, and so they are in a state of self-consciousness, and when you step forward and you’re with other people, then you have the capacity to be other conscious to really make an impact on other people.

But it involves making that choice. Definitely. I’m confident right now. Yeah. At this moment. So there’s a bit of intentionality behind it. it. And I also think, to your point, what I was hearing too, is when we’re able then to be confident and be present, we’re not trying to think so far ahead in our talk and just speak from, you know, that moment.

Absolutely. You know, plays into this whole being at the moment, being present, being authentic and intentional. . Yeah. And that being present is really linked to this third piece, this third choice that public speakers, have to make it. You have to make it. If you’re standing in front of people and sharing your ideas and recognizing that it is a choice can make it a little bit more empowering, and that is allowing yourself to be seen.

Yeah. And it’s that same idea that I was just talking about where, you know, people step up to a podium, and then they visibly disappear. I always love to talk about the masculine version of that where, you know, I see a lot of dudes who get up and then they put their hand in their pocket. When they put their hand in their pocket, they’re saying, I’m really casual right now.

Nothing’s tense here. Nothing to be afraid of. I’ve got this under control. Whenever I see a dude put his hand in his pocket, I’m thinking that dude is freaking out. It’s a way of hiding and allowing yourself to be seen is difficult. It’s tricky at that moment when you stand up and maybe those voices are coming in and you’re feeling a little timid.

Or you’re just feeling weird or you’re feeling like, why did I wear this shirt? Or you’re feeling, who am I to be sharing these ideas? What authority do I have? All of this stuff creeps in and they’re not actually constructed sentences in your mind when you’re losing that confidence and you’re losing that sense of owning space.

But when you think about allowing people, just let them look. Let them look at you. It’s a tricky business, but it is a choice that you make and I think one of the most empowering. I wanna know your thoughts on imposter syndrome and public speaking. I feel like it has a hand in this last piece that you were bringing.

So imposter syndrome is not actually like a syndrome. It’s not like a clinical, it’s a pairing of phrases, right? Imposter syndrome is a pairing of phrases that we use as a shortcut to describe. All of the falling apart that we do in front of people, and I think that there’s a lot that you can do to get in front of an imposter syndrome, right?

I mean, there are a lot of people who advance early in their careers. You know, somebody will reach out to me and they’ll say, Hey, you know, I mean, I’m only 28 and I’ve been promoted in my company three times. But every time I get in front of people, I feel like they’re evaluating me. They’re judging me because secretly what they’re thinking is, this person didn’t deserve, I didn’t deserve.

You know, this position or where I’m at in my time. Mm-hmm. . And typically at that point I’ll say, so why did your director, your manager, your boss, why did they give you the job? And they’ll start listing all of the reasons. And I said, I kind of tricked you there. I said I put it into the perspective of your director, your manager, but you are now telling me why you have the position.

Self-talk is huge. Yeah. I think we know that. You know, the things that you tell yourself are the things that truly resonate and unfortunately they do. They’re visible. You know, people can see them, but imposter syndrome is telling yourself why you’re. Imposter syndrome. Getting in front of it is about preparation as well.

I think when we’re prepared, we’re way more confident than when we’re just sort of winging it. Mm-hmm. , you know, I see a lot of presentations that are the result of bullet points. I’m gonna get up there and I’m just gonna speak very freely, and I’m gonna use these bullet points as a reference, and that typically devolves into rambling, or you start to get ahead of yourself.

If you’re really smart, you’re gonna get ahead of yourself and then you’re gonna freeze in a moment where you’re, you can’t find the word because your mind is, Way ahead of your mouth. So preparation is huge, and I think finding a system for prep that works for you, that you can repeat over and over and over again, becomes a very quick shortcut.

You know, for example, if somebody says, Hey, can you present today five minutes on blah, blah, blah, at three o’clock and it’s 10:00 AM then you’re gonna be able to handle that because you have systems. Mm-hmm. and imposter syndrome is also, you can go to war with that, with yours. With breathing and, and I don’t mean that in a woo way, like I’m not talking about like let’s um, it out and like, and get to a very centered, but I am as well.

I, I’ve also taught yoga and so I, I do believe in that, that as well at the same time that I roll my eyes about it. But I think that there are breathing exercises you can be doing. Before you present yourself to others. Hmm. And you know some very specific ones for specific situations, but what we’re often looking at when people are presenting is that they’ve got an imbalance of oxygen and carbon dioxide going on.

And when you’ve got too much carbon dioxide and your bloodstream, your hands are gonna shake. Your voice is gonna get a little web. You’re gonna start to disassociate, you’re gonna leave yourself. I mean, we have that experience when we give a presentation, and then afterward we don’t remember it. We don’t know what happened.

And, um, that subtle disassociation unfortunately also creates this air of you not being present with other people. Mm-hmm. and definitely doesn’t help with confidence. it, it doesn’t, yeah. It kind of devolves into a spiraling, into despair. Yeah, exactly. Yeah. I know we’re getting toward the end of HOK today.

but if people were group practice owners, were interested in getting support from you, can you just let people know where they can find you, but also like in what kind of ways do you support people when it comes to public speaking? Yeah. People can find me on my website and I’ll spell it cuz I’ve got a weird name.

It’s www, it’s m ma So it’s an I M E. B R U N E A Typically, when I’m working with individuals, I love working with individuals. It’s my favorite thing, feels personal and you’re not working. You know, in groups, people are more inclined to compare themselves with others. And, uh, I, I work with people in six sessions.

I feel like that is enough to get them to a place where they’ve got the systems that they need in order to continue advancing on their own. Sometimes I’ll continue working with people if they really want to, but my goal is to get through successions with people on a weekly or every other weekly basis so that it feels like an intensive.

And then you have all the tools. And if I’ve done my job well, and I always do, Then I think that you should be able to handle things moving forward and maybe just reach back if you’ve got a huge keynote or, or something like that down the line. Another way that I work with people is that I will come in and work with a group and do workshops.

I work with different organizations, some of them on a repeat basis, and every now and then, you know, I love working with new groups and going in and just talking about presentational skills generally or looking at the culture of communication that. Within an organization, you know, what are the roadblocks?

What you know, how are people stumbling? How do people feel restricted, you know, is creativity, being stifled, these sorts of things? So that’s how I like to work with folks. I love it. I really appreciate you taking time out on your busy Monday, and we’ll make sure to share all of that information also in our show notes for anyone who is interested in working with you.

Thank you so much for coming on. Thanks for listening to the Group Practice Exchange Podcast. Like what you heard. Give us five stars on whatever platform you’re listening from. Need extra support. Join the Exchange, a membership community just for group practice owners with monthly office hours, live webinars, and a library of training ready for you to dive into.

Visit See you next week.

Thanks For Listening

Thanks for listening to the group practice exchange podcast. Like what you heard? Give us five stars on whatever platform you’re listening from. Need extra suppor? Join The Exchange, a membership community just for group practice owners with monthly office hours, live webinars, and a library of trainings ready for you to dive into visit www dot members dot the group practice exchange dot com forward slash exchange. See you next week.


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Meet your host


Maureen Werrbach is a psychotherapist, group practice owner and group practice coach. Learn more about her coaching services here:


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